Indiana Wesleyan University and Anglican Church of the Ascension

Marion, Indiana

Project Director: Anne Greeley

To invite people into the solemnity and joy of the eucharist by focusing on collaboratively created art. 

Provide a brief summary of the purpose and goal of your grant.

Because we believe strongly in the ability of the visual arts to enrich our Christian worship, and because the building of the Marion Anglican Church of the Ascension lacked sacred art in its worship space, we implemented a project that engaged faculty and students from the Indiana Wesleyan Division of Art + Design in the ideation and creation of a set of liturgical paintings for the chancel wall.

What are two questions that have generated reflection on worship and helped shape your project?

How can we design a set of paintings that will foster a deeper, fuller, and richer participation in the liturgy at Ascension? What iconography and and what aesthetic will most effectively serve this purpose?

How can we develop artwork that expresses the local character of Ascension while reflecting its participation in the universal church?

What impact has your project had on the worship life and habits of the congregation? 

The impact of our art project remains to be seen, as the artwork has yet to be installed in the sanctuary. We have spent the majority of the grant year engaging in theological and art historical study and furthering the process of the artwork ideation. Our artists' designs were recently approved by the church Mission Council, and we look forward to seeing how the implementation of the artwork will shape the worship experience at Ascension over the months to come.

What have been your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

While the pandemic presented many logistical impediments to our grant project, the greatest hurdle we have faced has been the negotiation of a common aesthetic vision for the chancel artwork. While decisions regarding iconography were fairly easily agreed upon, consensus over style and composition has been more difficult than anticipated. The subordination of personal artistic vision to the needs of the commission (i.e., "art by committee") has proven particularly challenging at times.

What would you like to share with other Project Directors?

Congregational buy-in is essential to the success of any project. Take the time to inform the congregation why the project is being undertaken and what will be gained through the completion of the project. Involving members and offering regular opportunities for participation on/with the project committee will help ensure that the project is well received. Food is a good enticement to participation, and prayer helps smooth challenges along the way. Be prepared to improvise when plans go awry.